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First Cut: Weekly claims surge, “clearly attributable” COVID-19 impacts

Initial jobless claims surged 70,000 in the week ended March 14 after 211,000 in the prior week. The Labor Department had a special note in the report which said:

“During the week ending March 14, the increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus. A
number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service related
industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and
warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not.”

These are industries where layoffs were widely expected. Only Pennsylvania estimated claims in the week, so the numbers should hold up in next week’s report. The current week’s report also included annual revisions.

The data on continuing claims in the March 7 week did not yet reflect the upswing in new filings. Continuing claims were essentially unchanged at up 2,000 to 1.701 million and the insured rate of unemployment remained at 1.2% where it has been without interruption since the week of May 8 2018. Next week’s numbers should look far less rosy.

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